You’d think you could get away from them here. We’re in the middle of an icy wasteland, on a planet known particularly for its icy wastelands. I’m in a research station set up specifically to achieve isolation from radiation, light pollution and the everyday tremors caused by the mere presence of life on this off-Earth station. But day after day I get phone calls from someone trying to sell me things.
I’ve forgotten now what it was they were trying to flog the first time they rang. It’s such a long time since I engaged them in conversation. In fact, I think it was one of those blasted automated systems – there’s silence on the other end for as long as I stay on the line. Even then, the message is garbled or near-inaudible. At one point I imagined it was repeating back to me everything I said. My brain grasping for patterns in the haze.
That was reinforced when it happened to be Evans who picked up, when I happened to be out of the room. She thought it was me on the line. Apparently I sounded like I was in trouble, panicked. Caused quite a stir, I can tell you. Evans thought she’d heard me talking about an even more remote station, Salusa III, and wondered how the hell I could get out there so soon after she’d last seen me in the mess hall. Especially as that second site was just a construction yard at the time.
We laughed later because the new site already had a reputation – its long gestation gave rise to the station’s name becoming shorthand for danger, doomed projects and abandonment. Evans felt she was in a nightmare where all your future fears come true at once, or descend on you before you’d prepared yourself. Except, of course, her fears were for me!
Well, the re-assignment was not really a surprise then. I’m not due to go out to Salusa for another base-month, but I’m already getting ribbing from the rest of the team. At least maybe I’ll be free of those cold calls out there.